John Martin of Loughorne (Donaghmore, four miles from Newry) followed his friend John Mitchel to Dublin, supported him by contributing articles to his papers and so Martin’s political career commenced.
The suffering caused by the famine, when many poor, sick and dying people gathered around his door as their landlord, moved him to campaign for the Repeal of the Act of Union and so he became known as ‘John Martin the Repealer’. He was more widely known as Honest John Martin.
Following Mitchel’s example again, he left the Repeal Association when he considered it no longer consistent with honest patriotism and became a leader of Mitchel’s more radical group. After Martin returned from involuntary exile, he continued to campaign for Repeal and on agrarian and social and economic issues but he was not active in the organising or formation of the Fenians, as other former Young Ireland leaders were, choosing exclusively the constitutional path [Irish National League of Parnell) in his later life. He was a Home Rule MP when he expired in 1875.
When John Mitchel began his own journal ‘The United Irishman’, in February 1848 John Martin contributed articles. John Martin stepped into the breach left by Mitchel’s arrest. He launched a journal ‘The Irish Felon’ and ‘The Felon Club’ – a semi-military organisation.
In his journal he produced articles similar to those of Mitchel; hatred for England and hopes for a better future for Ireland. The Government moved at once and ordered his arrest for treason-felony. Shortly after Charles Gavan Duffy was also arrested and indeed shared a cell with him. More Young Ireland leaders were seized and bound in chains.
A few months later the remaining leaders of Young Ireland launched their abortive ‘rising’.
… more later …